Google’s Self Driving Vehicle gets Green Signal

It looks like the federal Government is on board with Google’s SDS with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) issuing a letter that reviews the existing definition of the word driver, effectively allowing for the self-driving vehicle (SDV) to be used in practical implementation.

Transportation secretary Anthony Foxx and Google Chairman Eric Schmidt
Transportation secretary Anthony Foxx and Google Chairman Eric Schmidt via CNBC

On Tuesday, the NHTSA stated that the word ‘driver’ needn’t be used within the context of a human driver alone. In the letter that was issued, the agency stated:

“NHTSA will interpret ‘driver’ in the context of Google’s described motor vehicle design as referring to the SDS (self-driving system), and not to any of the vehicle occupants. We agree with Google that its SDV will not have a driver in the traditional sense that vehicles have had drivers during the last more than one hundred years.”

This letter, however, is more of an interpretation than a ruling. Google has faced problems due to the SDV the SDV with respect to the California DMV, when the department stated that a human driver was required. some of the problems related to the SDV were human centric and not technocentric. Google opposed such a regulation as they stated that a human driver would attempt to override the fully automated car’s decisions. The SDV is not equipped with a steering wheel, break pedal or a throttle pedal.

This is a giant step for the Alphabet-owned tech company after their skirmish with the California DMV. Google has also been backed by the federal Transportation Department and it even has plans to accelerate the progress of driverless vehicles. Other tech giants such as Tesla plan to make SDVs a reality; ones that respond to their owner’s calls and can even be recharged.

Google has yet to seek exemptions from certain authorities and regulations in order to test their vehicles.